BT BDUK Rollout In North Yorkshire Halted By Badgers


Fibre rollout near Easingwold temporarily suspended by badger, badger, badger…

Engineering work to connect residents in the Easingwold area of North Yorkshire to the BT Openreach fibre network has been temporarily suspended after engineers discovered badger setts along the planned route for a cable connecting 450 properties to the local exchange.

Engineers immediately stopped work as badgers are an endangered species, making it illegal to interfere, disturb or restrict access to their setts, acts punishable by a fine of up £5,000 or six months in prison per sett.

Openreach was working in the area as part of a £36.4 million deal to bring superfast broadband to parts of North Yorkshire that would not otherwise be covered by BT’s commercial rollout of fibre in the country.

BT badgered by problems

badger badger badger“Bringing fibre broadband to rural parts of the UK is very challenging, but it’s not often that we encounter this kind of problem!” said Bill Murphy, BT managing director of Next Generation Access.

“If we do find there’s a risk of disturbing local wildlife and their natural habitat then BT and its partners take the matter very seriously. That’s why we’ve suspended our work in the Easingwold area and enlisted the help of a badger expert to make sure these animals are protected.”

If the consultant advises that the setts are inactive, then work can carry on as planned, but if they are indeed active, then BT will have to apply for a license from Natural England that will dictate how far away the engineering work needs to be for it to continue.

This could mean that work will not resume until June as badgers spend most of their time underground between December and June as this is when they rear their young. Ironically, the news has emerged just one day before a pilot cull of badgers is due to begin in Somerset and Gloucestershire to stop tuberculosis spreading amongst cattle.

BDUK benefits

“Engineering work will continue once we’re advised of the best course of action. BT and Superfast North Yorkshire look forward to bringing faster, fibre broadband to the affected local residents as soon as possible,” Murphy added.

North Yorkshire is the UK’s largest rural county and was home to the first village to benefit from the £530m BDUK programme. Ainderby Steeple was connected to the fibre network in December, providing residents with broadband speeds of up to 80Mbps.

Last month, BT secured £9.1 million of BDUK funding for the rollout of fibre in Durham and has won all of the money available under the initiative to date. It is also likely to win all of the remaining money after the only other bidder, Fujitsu, withdrew from the procurement process earlier this year.

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